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the native

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P1180403.jpgNoisy Miners are fast becoming pests in Australia, but nevertheless they are living beings and like all parents their young are their priority. This nest, located in a small tree beside the house, enabled a clear view of the occupants and the comings and goings of the devoted parents who worked tirelessly to feed those ever demanding fledglings. I wonder which one got the worm!

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castle guards

P1190071.jpgRosslyn Chapel was made famous in Dan Brown‘s novel The Da Vinci Codes that went on to become a much discussed movie. Last October on a visit to the UK I visited the Chapel while staying in what remains of Rosslyn Castle, once the St. Claire family home. The Castle is available to rent through the Landmark Trust and is located a short distance away from the Chapel on private land.

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My bedroom, visible on the left upper story.

The Castle accommodation is a walk back in time, filled with old paintings, faded wall hangings and memorabilia, statues from the Chapel, descending dungeons and a few resident ghosts thrown in! I captured these Jackdaws from my window one morning, and while strictly speaking Rooks are associated with castles and belfrys, in this case it was Jackdaws that presented plenty of atmosphere as they swirled in large flocks overhead and cawed and chacked into the night. 

p1140334Kanga and her baby Roo, from the infamous Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne, lived with Pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods. kangaThe appearance of a home-grown native animal in an English story book, while being raised on the English Canon, served to reinforce my love for these Australian animals (as a city-bred child I rarely encountered  them myself outside of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo). Kanga’s character in the book reflects the characters of the wallabies/kangaroos that now surround my house at all hours of the day/night. Like Kanga they are pretty, observant, loyal and unequivocally devoted parents. Also like Kanga their one Dislike is … Any Threat to Roo! 

P1180999.jpgThis Sottish Mod (aka Highland Steer) has the mod fringe down pat, take a second look and check out the single eye under those beautiful bangs. The horns may look scary but in reality Highland Steers are docile, good natured animals, and often house cows. The coats vary from black to white, red to silver and in between all thanks to a gene. I met this fellow when touring the Isle of Skye in north west Scotland last October. With the car window down I was only inches away from his lovely snout. These fringes were made famous when  Corb Lund (Canada’s country music singer) released his song ‘Hair in My Eyes Like A Highland Steer’.  

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Is this edible? (car side mirror)

P1180016.jpgIt’s easy to see where the White-cheeked Honeyeater gets its name, the white feathers either side of its cheeks sit like a soft feather fan that flutters becomingly in the breeze. It’s a small bird, usually 16-19cm. When nesting they prefer an untidy cup of grass, rootlets and twigs in a small bush or clump of grass. If all goes to plan 2-3 pinkish eggs will be laid.

 

P1180705.jpgThese types of strange mountains rise up unexpectantly throughout the Isle of Skye, one of the islands of ‘Argyll and the Isles’ in north west Scotland. It’s a rugged landscape that presents a challenge for those on foot. Certainly in earlier days when the great dense pine forests (now sadly decimated by harvesting) covered the island, the combination of seemingly impassable forests and steep exposed mountains slit by gorges led to the inhabitants preferring to travel by boat around the island rather than across country. 

P1180972.jpgYes, I admit it, I’m a fan of sheep. They are so sweet and docile and when you get to know them they have such interesting personalities. This Scottish Blackface, a resident of the Isle of Skye, seems to be displaying quite a sense of humour and could be saying, ‘hey just because I’m rural, doesn’t mean I’m not a fashionista’. You have to admit that those spotty legs, mix-matched ‘earrings’ and the ‘head gear’ are pretty darn cute.

p1180919On the Isle of Skye visitors soon learn that the Scottish Blackface considers the narrow roads their own. This mountain sheep is particularly well suited to Skye as it is tough, adaptable ,and bestowed with a long coarse wool coat that protects it from the biting winds that roar over the exposed landscape.

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